“My student and mentee has had some troubles in her life,” shares Stephan Matthie, member of the Living Faith church (Dulles, Va.) and participant in the church’s discipleship program. “As my violin student, Romita and I met weekly for lessons and sometimes talked about the struggles she was facing.”
One day, Romita Mandal asked Matthie why he seemed so happy, even though she knew he struggled with depression. “It opened an opportunity to tell her God was key,” he says. She reminded me that she was an atheist, but God spoke to me in that moment and gave me the perfect reply: ‘I know, but I feel you’re an atheist with questions.’” She said, “I think you’re right.” That conversation sparked the start of a year and a half discipleship journey.
They talked about life, God, Bible principles, and whatever God lead the conversation to be. “Romita has since completely fallen in love with God,” says Matthie. “She loves to pray, study the Bible and was recently baptized. She’s even begun discipling others in her life.”
Simone DeHaney had never attended an Adventist church. Her husband, a former Adventist, hadn’t attended for years. However, as a truck driver, he often passed Adventist churches. One Sabbath, he decided to stop and attend a worship service. This triggered his desire to look for a church whenever he was on the road. Simone began looking for churches near their home and started attending Solid Rock church in Fairfax, Va. “They quickly became involved at the church,” says pastor Vince MacIsaac. “They started Bible studies and soon after, the whole family was baptized.”
Shania Pride was always impressed with her friend, Theron’s, character. “As I began to know more about his spirituality, I was even more impressed by his values,” she says. “His Adventist beliefs were similar to those I grew up with as a Hindu—to love and respect all as the children of God.”
Pride accompanied Theron to several churches and began studying the fundamental beliefs, giving her space to navigate her questions and understand the truth in the light of Jesus. She began studies with Carlsen Griffith, member of Community Praise Church (Alexandra, Va.).
“My studies with Elder Griffith helped deepen my understanding of the themes and values of the faith that resonated with me,” shares Pride. She was later baptized and, as Theron had joined the Bible studies, he decided to be re-baptized with her. The two were later married.
“This is Cultivate,” says Peter Casillas, associate for pastoral ministries. “These stories accentuate how we can cultivate, each day, by living our lives and grabbing on to opportunities. We launched Cultivate, a re-imagined way of conference-wide evangelism, in 2015. It’s a movement, not a program. Let’s keep it moving.”